I live in a small forty-five home community along with many, very conservative retirees who are heavily invested in faith based religion. The community’s affairs are managed by a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). The HOA’s responsibilities include promoting “a community spirit and neighborly cooperation among all of the residents.” That last sentence comes directly from the HOA’s Certificate of Formation. The operative word in it is all. The HOA is a legal entity, accountable to the US Department of Urban Housing and Development (HUD) in matters of discrimination. I believe the HOA has unknowingly discriminated against me because of my religious preference by barring me from participating in the monthly ladies luncheon which it sanctions. The faith based religious, as they are prone to do, elevate belief over fact and, going through life on automatic pilot, impose those beliefs on those around them. As one believes, so one will act. This discrimination event opens up a teaching opportunity plus raise my fact based religious beliefs to higher visibility. The resistance to my religious belief is so strong that I have to change an otherwise entertaining girly luncheon into a fist fight.
The word non-binary is well known and frequently used in LGBTQ lexicon. It refers to a mental state which normalizes the male and female gender binary. In other words, there is no male gender, no female gender. Everything just “is,” cloaked in sameness. I challenge some of the LGBTQ non-binary claims as more trendy than real. Non-binary behavior must also be evident outside the LGBTQ paradigm. I know. I speak with authority. I am a poster child for non-binary behavior.
Since as long as I can remember I have objected to rules, like for example workplace rules that dictate that everyone starts work at such and such time, take coffee breaks and lunch at such and such time and so forth serve to pigeonhole human behavior into category. I prefer sameness over category. This inbred bias prevented me from working for large companies and their bureaucratic ways in favor of more free-wheeling enterprises. My bias toward sameness over category extends beyond rules. The hook end of the coat hangers in my closet all point in the same direction. Shirt fronts always face to the left. Tablespoons, teaspoons and soupspoons are commingled in the same drawer. A spoon is a spoon. Important papers are filed in a single pile. The need to make every thing the same and avoid pigeonholing is deeply engrained in my psyche. I came to appreciate these little personal idiosyncrasies holistically when I encountered the rainbow body phenomenon. It is as if my entire life was staged in preparation for this one event. In rainbow body, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the bodies of spiritually perfected people vanish from sight at death, adding new meaning to the word salvation. The words “spiritually perfected” here means the capacity to view everything that comes before the senses with sameness. The rainbow body phenomenon graphically illustrates the meaning of sameness as body and spirit (soul if you happen to believe in it) merge into one. The forgotten words of Jesus (Gospel of Thomas) address the need for sameness as the path to spiritual perfection by specifically singling out the need to eliminate the male-female gender binary. In other words, sameness, He says, must extend beyond the common tall/short, fat/skinny, smart/dumb and so forth binaries to include gender as well. He tells us to make the male and female into a single one such that the male is no longer male or the female, female. As adherents to the Abrahamic religion all know from the words of Genesis 2:25 (but conveniently ignore), the first couple was created genderless, non-binary. (Refer to my blog on cross-dressing.) Jesus, in Thomas, advocates a return to that state of mind. The return to genderless-ness is what my religion is all about.
As a practical matter, how does one go about eliminating the male/female binary in a society that is heavily vested in obstructive, socioreligious, binary, gender norms and which imposes harsh social punishment in terms of harassment, ridicule, even physical harm on those who dare violate? The answer is….very carefully. Western society can be a punitive one when gender norms are challenged.
Once a month a number of the women in my neighborhood gather for lunch over gossip and sometimes a shopping spree. The get-together is sanctioned by the community HOA and enjoys committee status. A few months back I petitioned the committee chair to join the monthly luncheon. Not just join, but to attend the functions dressed as a woman. A man wanting to attend a ladies function was a most unusual request but one that was acceptable to the chair. A man in attendance wearing a dress was totally unacceptable. In other words, per the ladies, there is something inherently wrong with a man wearing a dress. This prohibition is a form of religious discrimination for it stands in the way of my continuing efforts to become non-binary in the quest for spiritual perfection; my religious response to the salvation we all seek in accordance with Jesus’s teachings. The denial is where the “fist fight” comes in. “King for a day” one day and “Queen for a day” the next for the express purpose of eliminating the male-female binary, is as valid a religious expression in the pursuit of spiritual perfection as is standing on a soap box in town square reading from the Bible in the pursuit of salvation in the Abrahamic religions. What right does the luncheon committee have to deny my religious expression?
The mind is a dangerous thing. As note, as you believe, so will you behave. What we have here are two opposing belief systems knocking heads. One operates in fear of a revengeful God who promises heaven to the faithful at some nebulous point in time called the end of times. The other believes heaven is a state of mind that manifests in the here and now in those who think non-dualistically. The ladies luncheon crowd is invested in the former. The ace-in-the-hole discrimination card provides the opportunity to allow the Court to decide the winner of the fist fight.
As it turns out, the prohibition is, in addition to religious implications, a form of sexual discrimination. In June of this year the United States Supreme Court handed down a block-buster decision that placed a man purposely dressed as a woman into a protected class. The operative word here is purposely.; that is, not on a whim. One of the cases before the Court involved a transgendered woman named Aimee Stephens. Aimee, before she was Aimee, worked as a funeral director in the Detroit area. After having made the decision to have sex reassignment surgery, Amy told her boss that she would be conducting her employment duties dressed as a woman, thus aligning her altered male body with her female state of mind. She was promptly fired. The High Court deemed the firing discriminatory. Note here, I carefully refer to Aimee at the time of firing as female even though her body was still male. Female was her true gender.
“King for a day” one day and “Queen for a day” the next for the express purpose of eliminating the male-female binary, is as valid a religious expression in the pursuit of spiritual perfection as is standing on a soap box in town square reading from the Bible in the pursuit of salvation in the Abrahamic religions.
The Court’s decision radically changed the definition of the word sex. It upended the traditional rigid male/female binary where gender conflates with sex by reclassifying gender as a spectrum. Now, for example, a male’s mindset of being a woman trapped in a man’s body (and expressed accordingly) must be honored. And vice-versa. I believe that one’s mindset of being non-binary, neither male nor female, and the related right of gender expression must be honored as well, especially because the mindset has a religious dimension in addition to a human rights issue. What I am doing here is lifting the new understanding of the word sex out of the High Court’s ruling and applying it in a different context, going from hiring/firing situations to one concerned with purposeful access to functions that are sanctioned by an HOA. And, while it could be argued that the issue of a cross-dressed man at a small ladies luncheon is trivial and contrived, it really isn’t. A ruling on an itty-bitty matter sets a precedent for larger matters as they arise in the future.
The 1968 Fair Housing Act may also be relevant. Ostensibly, the Act expressly prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of dwellings based on race, color, creed, disability, sex, familial status, or national origin. The Act, however, has many subtle nuances. For example, an HOA is guilty of discrimination if it manages a community owned swimming pool while barring African-American use. Or, it would be similarly liable if it organized a social function but excluded anyone of, say, Asian descent, from attending. Historically, the HOA has aggressively prosecuted such discriminations. Does the ladies luncheon fiasco fit under these definitions of discrimination? I am going to find out although it will probably result in a proverbial “fist fight.”
I have nothing against my HOA. It is a well run organization that serves the community well. It, unfortunately, finds itself in a trap as a result of discrimination in defiance of its own charter (i.e., the word all), of discriminating in a religious sense even though the religion being trampled on is vastly different than the ones of prominence in Western culture, plus violation of Federal law regarding human rights. The argument that allowing a man to wear a dress to a sanctioned ladies event violates the belief of others who think such action is inappropriate (and maybe sinful) carries no weight, for a man who purposely dresses as a woman is now a protected class under the recent Supreme Court ruling. The fist fight at the ladies luncheon creates the unique opportunity to broadcast a much deeper message, one that stresses the primacy of mind training in the interest of developing non-dual thinking as a replacement for the traditional God and religion approach to salvation. Is the world willing to accept a new version of Christianity, one that delivers eternal life on the spot (i.e., rainbow body) rather than wait until some nebulous time called the end of times as Christians are taught? The fist fight at the ladies luncheon offers the opportunity to explore that question in a high court.
A call to HUD to report religious and sexual discrimination is in order.
I intend to expand on this opportunity with a new book, Cross Dressing My Way to Heaven – A Blatant Denial of Socioreligious Gender Norms, hopefully by early 2021.